Berlin From A Bike By: gray marler
They say the best way to see a city is by walking through it, but to hell with that. With technology the way it is, I can get that experience from the comfort of my couch. And after walking an average of 15 miles a day for the first four days, I was over the whole bipedal thing.
My Uncle with whom I was traveling decided to arrange a bike tour with a local company: a much less demanding means of conveyance. The tour began underneath the famous Fernsehen Tower, where we met our guide and group for the day. Our guide introduced herself as Sophie, and by her side was a sweet old Finnish couple in their 60's who's names I can not recall.
After familiarizing ourselves with the bicycles, and a few near misses in the crowded square underneath the tower, we were on our way. Our first stop, as everyone's first stop in Berlin should be, was the infamous Bergheim nightclub.
From what I've been lead to believe, you don't understand the meaning of the word "party" until you've stepped through the threshold of this repurposed Cold War era power plant. Dazed and bleary eyed partygoers dressed in mostly black littered the entrance of the club smoking cigarettes and resting their ears from the blaring house music. If the people outside were any indication, the party was still going strong. And mind you this was 1 pm on a Saturday. As Sophie put it, "People start lining up on Friday afternoon, and the club is full until early Monday morning." A real work hard play hard mentality those Germans have. I like that. With such infamy surrounding it, Bergheim has no shortage of patrons. You could wait in line for hours only to have the doorman turn you away because he didn't like the shirt you were wearing. Don't worry too hard though, they love Americans in Berlin. If you're there and looking for a good time, it's worth a shot. Sophie had two recommendations for those who wish to attend that stuck out to me: no photography as it is strictly forbidden, and don't attend if you recoil at the sight of powdered drugs. I wonder if those two things are related?
The next stop, albeit brief, was a small square that after a few turns through back alleys we emerged into. I was greeted by graffiti everywhere, a small stage, and shacks of local food vendors that were unfortunately closed. If you can't tell by this point, I absolutely adore Berlin. A city filled with all different kinds of art, architecture, culture, and ideas is my cup of tea. Urban areas capture an entirely different kind of beauty for me, and this square expresses it perfectly. Being surrounded by what I imagine is hundereds of people's self expression makes me think about life man, ya know?
As we rode away from the square, I stopped to take a few pictures of murals that were painted on the sides of buildings. The ammount of art in Berlin is truly remarkable. Sure, there are plenty of museums where you can see fine works of established artists, but what really sticks out is how open the government and community is to the average person adding their own touch to the city. I think everyone benefits when a once lifeless wall is given new meaning.
Speaking of walls being given meaning, the next place we stopped was the Berlin Wall. This requires little pretext as it is perhaps the largest German tourist cliche. What I found most entertaining about this stop was the wide variety of people who were congregated around various sections taking pictures of themselves and loved ones.
We struggled not to hit anyone on the crowded thoroughfare on our way to Tempelhof Airport. Bar none of the nightlife and historical significance, this was my favorite amenity Berlin had to offer its citizens. Tempelhof was a fully functioning airport during World War Two, but has since been repurposed as a public park. Long stretches of Tarmac and cleared greens allow for a variety of leisure activities.